The Pearl Harbor attack
The Pearl Harbor attack was a major event that led to the Second World War in 1940s. On on December 7, 1941, Japan launched an assault on America, by attacking its naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The raid lasted about 2 hours, after which, the damage was already done. More than 2,000 American soldiers and sailors died while 1,000 others wounded. Moreover, Japanese destroyed about 20 American naval vessels together with about 200 airplanes. The attack on Pearl Harbor had far-reaching effects. It complicated the relationship between nations as countries took sides. Following the assault, Congress approved President Roosevelt’s declaration of war on Japan. This attracted other interested countries as Italy and Germany, who were Japan’s allies declared war on the U.S. By the end of the first two years, the U.S was already in the WWII.
Even though the Pearl Harbor attack was a surprise to many, the relationship between Japan and America showed that war was imminent. It was like a timed bomb. In particular, the U.S was not at peace with Japan’s aggressive advancement into China. For Japan’s administration, annexing part of China was one of the envisaged ways of dealing with its economic and demographic predicaments. By this, Japan believed that it would take over the import market, having declared on its neighbor in 1937. America responded with economic and trade sanctions on Japan. According to Americans, access to money and other supplies was necessary for the country’s growth. By cutting these, the U.S was sure that Japan would stop its expansion plan. However, this did not deter Japanese; they stood firm and determined. War appeared to be inevitable as no side moved during bilateral talks.
The attack came as a surprise because of the distance between Japan and Hawaii. American intelligence conceived that if Japan were to attack its colonies, it would target those closer to the border like South Pacific, Singapore, Indochina, etc. For many, an attack on a colony, 4,000 miles away would be inconvenient. For Japan, Hawaii was the best target it expected minimal resistance from American forces. In addition, Japan had a plan in order to execute the attack on Pearl Harbor. It wanted to destroy the Pacific Fleet. This was important to prevent Americans’ retaliation. The December 7 attack came after long months of planning and deliberations.
Even though Japan succeeded to attack Pearl Harbor, it did not achieve its main objective of attacking the Pacific Fleet. During that time, warfare technology had advanced and countries no longer depended solely on battleships. Aircraft carriers had become more effective. On December 7, all Pacific Fleet carriers were on assignment. Additionally, the attack did not destroy the base’s vital resources like submarine docks, oil storage depots and shipyards among others. This saw the U.S Navy bounce back quickly after the Pearl Harbor raid. One of the major effects of the attack was the awakening of America, which was described as a sleeping giant. Americans became determined and united to go to war Initially, Japan wanted to push America to lift its sanctions but went ahead to goad its enemy in a global conflict whose result was occupation of Japan by foreign power.
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